The importance of “Women, Peace and Security” agenda
The Women, Peace and Security agenda is wide and complex. Yet, we need to talk about it, understand its value and implement it to, on one hand, reduce the disproportionate suffering of women in conflicts, but on the other hand realise the full potential of women in creating peace and making a difference in the world. As has been said by the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai: „We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back“.
A lot has been done in 22 years after the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. There are 104 national action plans adopted, also European Union and NATO have their own action plans on Women, Peace and Security agenda. But we are still at least 37 years away from reaching gender parity in national parliaments. The percentage of women in peace negotiations has recently dropped from 23% to 19%, which is truly unfortunate as women’s participation enables to reach a peace which is more durable.
Therefore, most of all, we need gender equality – a human right. Gender equality prevents violence against women, contributes to economic prosperity and peaceful societies. As we are witnessing many conflicts and human rights backsliding in the world, we must help all women and girls who continue to bravely stand up for their human rights. We stand with women and girls suffering in Russia´s brutal war against Ukraine, under Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan, in massive displacement in Ethiopia, and in Iran, where brave women at the cost of their lives stand united in their fight for basic rights. Unfortunately, there are many more distressing examples of how women are continuously forced to endure unjustified struggle even for the most basic needs and rights.
Estonia is doing its utmost to support the Women, Peace and Security agenda at home and abroad. We are currently at our third National Action Plan for implementing the Security Council resolution 1325. Gender equality and empowering women are horizontal priorities for Estonia´s development cooperation and humanitarian aid. For us it is evident that in order to ensure full gender equality, it is important to reduce gender digital divide and contribute to digital skills and inclusion of women and girls.
Tackling conflict related sexual violence has been a longstanding priority for Estonia – including as a member of the UN Security Council in 2020-2021. Apart from political dedication and in our fight against impunity, Estonia contributes financially to preventing conflict related sexual violence through international organisations and in our development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. In peacekeeping operations, we are helping to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda while protecting people on the ground.
On the whole, let me stress the importance of women as a driving force of change in spite of often paying the heaviest price in times of conflict. We must all join our efforts to empower women and ensure their fair participation in building societies that are safe, resilient, inclusive and peaceful. This is the greatest commitment we can make for future generations of women and girls to come. So that the suffering would not have a female face.
Ambassador for Human Rights at the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The event was supported by the Estonian MFA, Estonian MoD, Embassy of Canada to Estonia and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Tallinn, The article is supported by NATO.